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Save Girls - Technology as a Ticket to Employment

Save Girls began in 2006 as a three-year program whose mission is to provide young women with the confidence, life skills and vocational training needed to effectively insulate them against the violence and poverty that characterize their gang-ridden communities in the capital. The girls, aged 14-16, received intensive training in information technology, graphic design, photography, advertising, writing and client management. The original program has been so successful that Fotokids has expanded it to other high-risk barrios in Guatemala City and pending funding would like to offer it in the future to rural areaswhere patriarchal traditions send boys to school not girls. 

The Need

Young women as a sector in Guatemalan society, especially those from urban poverty are largely ignored. Our program makes a difference through vocational training that is a bonus to obtaining any kind of employment not just design or photography. Fotokids Save Girls program addresses the lack of education and employment opportunities for at-risk young women from the poorest, most violent barrios in Guatemala City. They face one of highest crime indexes in Latin America with 44 murders/100,000 inhabitants. As a result of poverty and gang violence, forced recruitment of women, rapes, murders and extortion with death threats are common. In terms of education, Guatemala ranks last in Latin America regarding women's education. Only 20 percent of the country’ population finish secondary school, an even smaller percentage of this are girls. This education gap results of course, in wage inequality, where 63% of poor, urban women have low wage jobs without benefits. With these challenges, few role models exist to inspire hope for a brighter future. Each year, in Guatemala, 20,000 jobs become available for more than 800,000 applicants. With 70% of our population under 30 years of age, Save Girls provides a strong, tangible, competitive edge for a population with historically very few options    

The Program

A young woman enters the program and begins with gender studies. Through peer discussions a sense of feminine empowerment develops. At the same time they begin a study of photography in both theoretical terms (how women are represented in images) and in practical terms of photographic technology. Assignments are also calculated to promote internal growth and range from environmental portraits, to studio lighting, to advertising campaigns where each student has to contact and work with their own client, giving them expertise in real life work experience and marketing. Photoshop is introduced and engenders discipline and professionalism. Adobe Illustrator provides knowledge in how to create and write brochures, banners and posters. These skills provides job opportunities to those who will work in other sectors. We are on our second and third graduating class. Students from the first class, from truly desperate environments have gone on to: study at university, work as free-lance designers, are wage earning members ofFotokidsprofessional design studio, work as paid media arts teachers or have found jobs with other non-profits. In a society where few job opportunities exist for young women, none of these options would have been open to them had they not completed the Save Girls program    

Why Save Girls Works

Fotokids is a wholly unique integrated program, offering individual mentoring. In Guatemala we are alone in preparing young women to work in media technology and with valuable skills in a competitive job market. The Fotokids design studio specifically targets other non-profits designing their web sites, logos, brochures, producing internet videos, providing skilled photography, and media workshops for their staff and employs its own program graduates in doing so. We have little competition from other design studios, given our selective marketing niche, strong reputation and reasonable pricing structure. We have a pool of professionally trained young people that offer state-of-the art creative services, and at the same time are earning money to support themselves and their families.